Someone sent me a link to an article from Newsweek entitled "Mixed Messages." It talks about websites taking us into the world of anorexia (called pro-ana sites) and bulimia (called pro-mia sites). Here's a sample of what they say:
Drink ice-cold water ("your body has to burn calories to keep your temperature up") and hot water with bullion cubes ("only 5 calories a cube, and they taste wonderful"). When a food craving strikes, give yourself a manicure ("applying extra layers of slow-drying polish. It will keep your hands occupied").The article goes on to outline the debate that is occurring on whether these sites are good or bad. Those in favor of the websites state that the internet is a huge support group for these (in general) troubled teens who visit it. Others say that these sites promote and glamorize this type of lifestyle.
It's a pretty balanced article and I encourage you to check it out. The question comes back to this: Can a website CAUSE a change in behavior, especially in younger people? Here is one point of view from the article:
The pro-eating-disorder sites feed into anorexics' competitive nature, says eating-disorder specialist Dr. David S. Rosen, a professor of pediatrics and internal medicine at the University of Michigan. "They're constantly trying to be the sickest, the thinnest, the most unhealthy. If you go to a Web site where people are describing their eating habits, their vomiting practices, if you're in the throes of a serious eating disorder, no matter how that information was intended when it was put out there, it may be a challenge to eat less, to take more diet pills, to weight less. That's where the harm is."Here is another point of view:
Could the sites somehow lure a completely healthy girl into becoming an anorexic? "You've still got to have some sort of predisposition," says John Levitt, director of the eating-disorders program at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates, Ill. "It's a little bit difficult to believe they went there and were pure." Most patients "don't need the advice," he says. By the time he sees them, they already know the tips and tricks. But, he says, "if you have a predisposition for something, you get reinforcement for it."I have never been of the opinion that media (whether it be violent movies, certain video games, certain types of music, etc.) has a causal relationship with a person's behavior. People should be accountable for their choices and actions. For parents, they should be accountable for supervision of their children and teens.
But, this article does make some compelling arguments to make me think. I haven't changed my position. But, as I alluded to in Direct to Kid Advertising, it seems like it's getting more and more challenging for parents to de-program their kids from the media message saturation.